Trek n Ride 'Explorer' bike saddle bag review

I bought a saddle bag for my bike from Trek n Ride. This post is a detailed experience account of the same. Disclaimer: I am not an expert with saddle bags or saddle bag riding- this is my first long ride with saddle bags, so I am only sharing my experience.
Why did I buy a saddle bag?
Bikes have near zero cargo carrying capacity. Only bags we can put on our back and anything we can hang to the side or tie using a cord is what we can carry. I had to reach my native place from Chennai and wanted to carry more stuff with me. So the idea of saddle bag came to my mind. Saddle bags can be hung on both sides of the rear seat and depending on their size, can fit enough stuff that would otherwise need two medium size backpacks.

As I was due to leave in a few days, there was no possibility of online order. Had to go to a shop and buy. After few checks, realized that Trek n Ride is the closest shop to my home- about 11 kms, so decided to go there and buy directly from manufacturer.

As I visited their shop and factory, I was taken to a warehouse and was given demo of 3 models.
Explorer, Classic and Sportz.

Explorer was the most expensive (MRP 3999) but was most spacious.
The other two were slightly cheaper- Sportz at MRP 3499 and Classic at MRP 3199- classic was quite trendy but relatively smaller sized. Sportz was intermediate size of the two. My main requirement was to be able to carry more goods, so Explorer seemed like best bet.

This review is about Explorer Saddle bag by Trek n Ride. 

I got 15% discount on MRP, which I believe is less. Because I physically went to their factory and bought it, they didn't have to pay commission to flipkart/amazon, no packing cost, no shipment cost, no payment gateway cost etc. Even on website they are giving 8-12% discount, so since I went in person I felt I qualified for 20-25% discount at least. Anyway we'll leave that aside and move on. Trek n Ride product range includes knee caps, bungee cords, boots, jackets and various other accessories needed for trekking expeditions and bike trips.

Pros of Trek n Ride Explorer Saddle Bag:
  • Lots of luggage carrying capacity
  • Fairly sturdy
  • Fits on most bikes
  • Comes with accessories- shoulder strap, a fiber sheet to maintain shape, rain covers etc
Limitations of Trek n Ride Explorer Saddle Bag (or challenges with most saddle bags)
  • Not custom made for any bike model, hence fit is not very precise and aesthetics are not very best. If you have a bullet,then there are saddle bags custom made for bullet, keeping in mind its seat width, design contours, overall height etc. Thus they fit perfectly, look great. But the Trek & Trail saddle bag I bought is a generic one and not custom made for my Apache RTR160 (or any other bike for that matter). This brings some challenges as stated below.
  • Because of my bike's seat layout and design, if I keep it too back bag will crush turn signals. If I keep it 50-50 strap tends to slide forward. This was the position when I got off after some time. Then I moved it slightly back. It is true that I am new to this saddle bag riding, so haven't yet mastered the art of fitting it perfectly. A strap across the top would have helped close the lid more perfectly. 
  • Protruding rear turn indicators are a problem. Apache’s rear turn indicators can get crushed by heavy saddle bag. To avoid this we will have to position the saddle bad little forward than optimal. My rear indicators are now bent extensively, luckily not broken. Some bikes had turn indicators integrated into rear tail lamp- like Old Suzuki Fiero, CBZ Xtreme etc- but unfortunately most modern bikes now do not feature integrated tail lamps. May be because it is easy money for bike company each time indicators are damaged. Thus it is important to consider position of your turn indicators and if the saddle bag will fit perfectly without damaging turn indicators.
  • I had a ladies handle & hook on the right side, which again came in the way of the bag. (Not bag's fault but if you have a bike with mono suspension the saddle bag fits best)
  • Pillion rider can’t sit if saddle bag is positioned- this is given, not a fault of saddle bag- but giving a mention so that you will know before hand if you’re planning to do double riding plus carry saddle bag. Saddle bag kind of rests on rear foot peg so pillion rider won't have a space to rest their legs. Depending on your bike's design and bag type, if you need to carry pillion also then you need to select one that is comfortable with pillion rider seated.
  • Saddle bag’s entire load bearing happens on the central strap resting on the rear seat. There is no other support. There is a lighter middle strap, which staff said put it under the seat- but that is not practical (to unlock and remove the seat each time loading/unloading saddle bag, so I let that also rest on the seat itself. Because of this the contact points face immense stress. After 750 kms ride this is the status of central strap- already showing signs of fatigue. It will last few more trips but will surely fail at some point. To save the bag from failing, I will have to load less, ride slowly. Exact load carrying capacity is not disclosed, I had about 6-8 kgs on both sides during my rides. Most backpacks easily carry 20-30 litres of stuff weighing 15-20 kgs easily-assuming similar capacity for saddle bags, but then they don't rest on our bags but suspend on the seat, impacting stress on load bearing points. May be a metal support frame at bottom can take away some load.
  • These loose straps need to be taken care- they can easily get lost- they are used to tie bottom end of saddle bag to a bike component for extra grip. Also if they are left hanging they can get in the way of chain, wheel etc causing damage, hence need to be tied properly and checked at regular intervals. A slightly more efficient design which ensures it stays tied to the bag and easy to fix and adjust will be nice.
  • Non Lockable- Explorer bag's main compartment is kind of open and flexible. This makes it difficult to lock. So you've to ensure either you keep an eye on the bike all the time or don't keep any valuables inside. Saddle bag as such can be secured with a chain as there're hooks.
  • Loss of top speed: Large saddle bags increase weight, drag and compromise on top speed. I experienced about 10-15% drop in top speed. This is not fault of the bag, this is just physics. Similarly extra caution is needed while cornering.
  • Safety: As saddle bags increase overall width of the bike you need to be careful while negotiating traffic. While overtaking you at 80 kmph if a car driver misjudges the gap required and scrapes through the bag, you may have a major crash while car driver doesn't even notice what has happened. Similarly caution is required while negotiating narrow lanes.
Overall saddle bags are great value add during bike tours. Depending on your bike, amount of luggage to carry and other factors listed above, select a good one.

I saw a few saddle bags costing around INR 500 online. I am not sure how durable they are. Proceed with caution as saddle bags face immense stress if you're loading them to the brim and then cruising at 80-100 kmph or faster. 

No comments

Appreciate your efforts and interests to comment. Comments may be moderated due to increased spam. Will ideally respond to comments within few days.Use Anonymous option if you don't wish to leave your name/ID behind- Shrinidhi

Powered by Blogger.